Milwaukee Mile welcomes IndyCar Series
By NICHOLAS DETTMANN
The only order Roger Penske will have for his three drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series is be smart.
Will Power leads the series championship standings over teammate Helio Castroneves by four points heading into Sunday’s ABC Supply Company Wisconsin 250 at The Milwaukee Mile.
The other Penske driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, is fifth, 101 points back.
After Milwaukee, there are only two races left in the season.
“It’s a tough balance,” said Power after Saturday’s final practice session when asked where is the balance between personal and team success. “At the end of the day the team does come first. I think it would be just terrible to see the two of us in the wall and someone else win the championship.”
Power and Castroneves have the motivation. Both are still looking for their first series championship. And for Power, he’s been close all too often.
From 2010-12, he was the points leader with three races to go, including being the points leader heading into the 2010 and 2012 finales. Power still has nothing to show for it.
“I want it, absolutely,” Power said. “I’m focused. I really want to get it right. You know, it’s IndyCar racing, anything can happen.”
That’s just the thing. Anything can and has happened, especially to Power.
“I’ve just got to be smart,” Power said.
In 2010, Power was the leader with three races to go and was leading by 12 points going into the season finale. In the finale, Power crashed and finished 25th to finish second in the points to Dario Franchitti.
In 2011, Power was second in the points with four races to go, trailing Franchitti, the eventual series champion, by five points. Power was the leader by 11 points over Franchitti with three races to go. That season was also marred by the devastating multi-car crash at Las Vegas in the season finale that claimed the life of Dan Wheldon. Power trailed Franchitti by 18 points going into that race. But IndyCar decided to cancel the rest of the race after the crash and awarded no points to any driver.
In 2012, Power held a 36-point lead with three races to go and was the leader going into the season finale. In the finale, Power crashed and finished 24th to finish second in the points to Hunter-Reay.
“The lessons I’ve learned from the past three times, you just got to keep your head in the game all the way,” Power said.
After Milwaukee, the series will race at Sonoma Raceway in California on Aug. 24, then finish Aug. 30 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, for a double-points race.
“We have to understand that the last race is 100 points,” Castroneves said. “A lot of people are in the game, too. That’s why we want to make sure we don’t give the chance to others, keep it between us. Hopefully that way it will work out.”
At this point of the season, with a championship at stake, Penske Racing is business as usual. No information is being withheld.
“I think the atmosphere is really good right now at Team Penske,” said Montoya, the 1999 series champion. “We’re working together. I think everybody knows what they need to do.”
Penske Racing craves championship. It hasn’t won an IndyCar title since 2006 with Sam Hornish Jr.
“Team Penske is doing a great job having three guys up there,” Castroneves said. “It shows we want to achieve our goals, no matter who it is. Obviously I want it, Will wants it, Juan Pablo (Montoya) wants it. The goal is to bring the championship for Roger. We’re going to do everything we can to make that happen.”